Work Details

Large Ensemble
8 minutes


fl(=picc), ob, cl,, bsn(=c.bsn), hn, tpt, tbn, pno, 2 perc, 2 vln, vla, vc & cb

Programme Note

Invented in 1833 by mathematician William Horner, the zoetrope is a device designed to create the illusion of a moving image from a rapid succession of static pictures. The zoetrope consists of a cylinder with vertical slits in the side. On the inner surface of the cylinder is a band of sequential images and when the cylinder spins round, the user looks through the slits at the facing pictures. The presence of the slits prevents the pictures from blurring together and produces the illusion of relatively smooth motion.

This invention spawned a series of similar devices around the world such as the phenakistoscope and stroboscope. And years later Eadweard Muybridge applied a similar principle to photographs with his zoopraxiscope, a logical precursor to film.

Zoetrope is one of several recent pieces in which I am exploring the idea of infinite cycles, applying this to all aspects of composition. In fact this work is designed so that the very end of the piece could seamlessly loop back to the opening. When using a zoetrope, the faster the cylinder is spun, naturally the smoother the action appears – blurring the line between still and moving image. My piece opens with slow pulsing material that gradually speeds up throughout. The faster the pulse is the more fluid the line becomes, so that a melody that might only be implied at a slower speed will be more apparent at a faster speed – blurring the line between pulse and sustain as well as melody and harmony.

Past Performances

28 July 2012
Mizzou Festival,
Missouri Theater, USA
Alarm Will Sound
Alan Pierson

16 June 2013
Bang on a Can Marathon
Pace University, New York, USA
Alarm Will Sound
Alan Pierson